Lido Ponty at Ynysangharad War Memorial Park
Lido Ponty, a Grade II listed lido in Pontypridd, South Wales, has been restored to its former glory and updated for 21st century visitors. Located in Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, the historic family attraction is the only one of its kind in Wales and is Wales’ premier outdoor pool attraction and adventure Play Park.
Lido Ponty was originally built in 1927 in a style that was typical of its time, bringing a strong Mediterranean mood to the South Wales Valleys. This year marks the 90th anniversary of the original opening of the lido at Ynysanghard War Memorial Park on 30 July 1927.
Speaking to Premier Construction magazine about the project, Jane Cook, Director of Regeneration and Planning at Rhondda Cyon Taf County Borough Council said: “The project was the restoration of a derelict Grade II listed 1920’s lido, into a regional visitor attraction, expertly balancing sympathetic restoration and conservation, alongside a stylish and contemporary new build in art deco style. Original features such as timber changing cubicles and entrance buildings including cast iron turnstiles and the original ticket office have been restored and complemented with a new build café and visitor centre.
“The original pool has been remodelled to form three new pools, with the offer of the facility enhanced through providing an outstanding quality play area. Traditional construction methods such as lime plastering have been utilised wherever possible, and original materials have been sourced. The project has carefully balanced the best approaches in conservation, new build and leisure, to deliver an outstanding user experience.”
Work on the £6.3million project began in 2014 by main contractors Kier Western & Wales and Davies Sutton Architects, Cardiff.
Due to the fact that the River Rhondda meets the River Taff at one corner of the park, Lido Ponty is in a flood risk area and has previously suffered extensive damage from flooding. With the huge investment to complete the development, the project team did not want to take any chances of the Lido being devastated from flooding again.
Flood barriers were supplied by Floodstop (UK) Limited – one of the UK’s leading flood defence specialists.Kier purchased the flood barriers from Floodstop UK and Kier installed them on the project. Staff at Lido Ponty were shown how to slot in the aluminium flood boards and apply the compression system so that should a flood threaten, the doorways can be protected within minutes.
The development is now made up of three heated swimming pools, offering great opportunities for families, dedicated swimmers and social swimmers of all ages and abilities. There is also activity equipment such as an inflatable obstacle course, water walkers, zorbing balls, small paddle boats and poolside loungers. Other features also include external and internal showers, heated changing facilities, café, an external dry play area which captures the imagination of younger visitors as they explore the swings, slides and tunnels, and a state-of-the-art Visitor’s Centre, which tells the story of Lido Ponty – The National Lido of Wales. Restored features include the 1920s turnstiles and wooden cubicles, which complement the newly built café.
“The restoration ethos was to utilise existing materials, to maintain the historical fabric of the building, where practically possible and only use new materials where necessary,” said Jane.
“The original buildings are a lime rendered brick built structure; timber external changing cubicles with tongue and grooved cladding to the sides and ceiling, with painted brick work to the rear wall with terracotta pantile tiles to the ground floor roof.
“The new build includes the two storey café and visitors centre which were constructed with a curtain walling system, with a Knauf insulated render system to the external east elevation, skimmed and fined down, as well as to the changing village; the plant room basement constructed in reinforced concrete.”
The site was opened to the public in August 2015 and feedback about the redevelopment has been positive. A final independent evaluation, which was carried out by Wavehill ltd in November 2016 stated: “The Lido, and the project as a whole, have exceeded expectations amongst senior stakeholders and is widely viewed as a model of good practice in regeneration. The success of the facility has led to a significant change in community perceptions of the facility, a particularly important challenge given some of the initial cynicism and concerns associated with the closure of the free to use paddling pool to make way for the play area.”
The project was also recently recognised by the 2017 RIBA Awards and was given a Highly Commended certificate in the category of ‘Project of the Year.’
Jane concluded: “The importance of the project was highlighted in the objectives which were set for the project, which were to:
- Create a fully restored, high quality and unique regional visitor attraction that would increase community and private sector confidence in Pontypridd town centre.
- Create a more desirable green space close to the town centre.
- Re-establish the town centre with a greater regional role as an employment centre by providing more opportunities for surrounding deprived communities, reflected through additional jobs being directly and indirectly provided through the project.”
Lido Ponty is open for the summer season until Sunday 10th September and will be open from 7:30am until 7:15pm, seven days a week. As a result of customer feedback a £1 charge has been introduced for adults for the 2017 season to allow as many people as possible to enjoy the facility. Charges are applicable for all adult swimmers and spectators.
The restored Lido Ponty – The National Lido of Wales, was officially opened by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall on July 6th 2016. It has been extremely popular, with over 120,000 people using the facility, since it first opened to the public.
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